The parents of a 4-year-old Benton County, Missouri, girl allegedly killed by neighbors to remove a “demon” now face charges.
Mary S. Mast, 29, and James A. Mast, 28, both of Lincoln, Missouri, were charged Thursday with felony child endangerment resulting in death and are jailed without bond, according to Benton County Sheriff Eric Knox said.
The Benton County Sheriff’s Office said the 4-year-old girl was found dead at the family home on Dec. 20. Knox said she had been severely beaten and dunked in an icy pond as part of what appeared to be a “religious-type episode.”
Ethan Mast, 35, and Kourtney Aumen, 21, are charged with second-degree murder and other offenses. Both are jailed without bond and don’t yet have attorneys, according to court records.
Deputies were called around 1 a.m. Dec. 20 to a rural home near the town of Cole Camp, Missouri, and found the 4-year-old wrapped in a blanket on a bedroom floor. A probable cause statement from Sgt. Chris Wilson said the girl was already dead and had “severe purple bruising” over her body, along with ruptured blisters.
Knox said the girl's parents also had been beaten along with a 2-year-old child. An infant son of the couple was apparently unharmed. Both were placed in protective custody, Knox said.
James Mast told investigators that the beatings had occurred over several days and that he and his wife observed them but were told they would be beaten or shot if they tried to intervene.
Still, Wilson asked James Mast "how he could let people do this to his family and he stated they were told (his wife) had a ‘demon’ inside her and her children would end up just like her if it was not taken care of,” Wilson wrote in the probable cause statement.
Ethan Mast told investigators that on Dec. 19, he and Aumen used a leather belt to beat the girl, the statement said. She was then taken to a pond behind the home where she was “dunked" in the water on a day when high temperatures were in the 40s. […] Knox said evidence indicated she was beaten to death.